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The decision to appoint a governance officer on a salary of $150,000 last year was purely to cope with the volume of complaints levelled against Warrnambool City councillors and staff.TENSIONS within Warrnambool City Council in the past two years have triggered expenditure of at least $250,000 to investigate and adjudicate on frivolous claims.
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The startling figure came to light during heated debate this week around the topic of council harmony which provided rare insight into an ongoingrift affecting the city’s reputation.

On Monday night several councillors revealed they had been targets of complaints from colleagues in verbal attacks inside and outside council settings.

One, Cr Jacinta Ermacora, said there had been more than 20 allegations against her which had been probed by the Local Government Inspectorate, independent investigators and a code of conduct panel.

“Not one investigation was upheld,” she said.

“An estimated $250,000 has been spent in recent years on legal expenses, senior officers’ time and other avenues and a full-time governance officer was appointed to deal with the cases.” Yesterday she elaborated, saying the decision to appoint a governance officer on a salary of $150,000 last year was purely to cope with the volume of complaints levelled against councillors and staff.

“That’s taken a load off senior officers who previously had to devote a huge amount of time to these issues,” Cr Ermacora said.

“The estimate was for all complaints directed against me and three other colleagues in this term of council.”

Cr Rob Askew, also lifted the lid with a rare outburst describing accusations against him as vexatious and frivolous. He said “baseless” complaints had caused considerable stress for him and his family.

“There have been a number of attacks on my integrity based on unsubstantiated information,” Cr Askew said.

“It’s time these councillors took time to chew on a reality stick and considered their motives first before attacking others.”

Cr Brian Kelson, who triggered the debate with a notice of motion emphasising the mayor’s responsibility to foster a united team, called for confidentiality to be lifted on the complaints issue.

He was challenged by Cr Ermacora and Cr Kylie Gaston on his motive in focusing just on the mayor and not on the council team as a whole, to which Cr Kelson replied he was trying to start a healing process.

Cr Peter Hulin jokingly described himself as an expert on conduct code hearings, which he claimed were triggered by false charges by the mayor and others.

Cr Peter Sycopoulis also revealed tensions over budget meeting attendances, stifling of debate and lack of opportunity for delegation in official duties.

Mayor Michael Neoh successfully put forward an amendment to Cr Kelson’s motion and achievedunanimous support for including reference to the statewide good governance guide in the council’s own governance agreement which includes a code of conduct.

He deleted Cr Kelson’s reference to the mayor and put the emphasis on all councillors.

Cr Neoh challenged all councillors to show their commitment and goodwill by signing the code of conduct as soon as possible.

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JUMP a few hurdles and last year’s fight and spirit shown by the Queenstown Crows will continue into a new season, says seniors player Jarrod McKenna.
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The squad won the Darwin Football Association 2014 premiership, fuelled by the loss of players Alistair Lucas and Craig Gleeson in the town’s Mount Lyell mining accident.

The heartache was combined with the death of father-of-three Michael Welsh, whose son played for the Crows last year.

“I think a lot of people would have been aware we had an extra special reason to play with the fatalities and our teammates passing away,” Mr McKenna said.

“A few people hung around to play.”

If the Mount Lyell closure had been earlier on in the year, instead of July, it may have prompted some players to leave Queenstown, according to Mr McKenna.

OUTNUMBERED: Somerset’s Kayden Last tackles Queenstown’s Jarrod McKenna in the Darwin Football Association senior grand final at Wivenhoe last year. Picture: Stuart Wilson.

“By the middle of the year when that announcement (closure) was made, it was only another couple of months before they had to hang around for the end of the footy season,” he said.

“People could have left a lot earlier than they did but I’m pretty sure they stuck around to honour the fellas.”

Today the club has several hurdles to jump if it’s to get a seniors team off the ground, but Mr McKenna believes it can be done.

He said some of last year’s Crows players have now signed to different teams or moved out of the state for job opportunities.

Senior coach of the 2014 premiership flag Tim King has also moved back to Penguin.

“People are probably thinking ‘well, I’ve achieved the pinnacle’ (DFA 2014 premiership) so they will retire or go to other clubs, but the majority of them are going to be around,” Mr McKenna said.

“We’ve struggled in past seasons and made the finals in both grades.”

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FITNESS and sustainability go hand-in-hand at the Sustainable NorthWests’ Amazing Enviro Race on Friday .
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Tamworth’s Bicentennial Park will host the event for the third time, which is a series of physical and mental

ENVIRONMENTALLY FIT: Amazing Enviro Race 2014 entrants, from left, Alistair Lyon, Darby Waugh, Callum Houlahan and Tom Bennett From Farrer Memorial Agricultural High School enjoyed their time at the event. Photo: Gareth Gardner 280214GGG01

challenges based on environment and sustainability issues over a short course following the bike path and surrounding park.

Participants can be 12 to 21 years old with the event aiming to educate, inform and inspire residents of the North West to live more sustainably.

“Last year, 50 participants from local schools, sporting clubs and youth groups participated, and this year we are aiming for more, with the help and support of Tamworth Regional Council waste and water departments,”Sustainable North West committee chair Stephanie Cameron said.

‘Entry is free, and there are two age categories (junior and senior) with prizes for the first pair home, as well as a number of ‘lucky entry’ prizes.”

Prizes include Go Pro Cameras,vintage style bikes, headphones, iPod speakers, books and stationery.

Participants can run or walk the 3km course, depending on their fitness levels, with the focus on participation and having a good time.

“Gen Y has a huge role to play inshaping the future of environmental awareness and action,” Mrs Cameron said.

“The race is a fun way to get them thinking about the small changes they can make in their everyday livesto minimise their impact on theenvironment.”

Entry is open until tomorrow at www.sustainablenorthwest南京夜网.au

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Star performers: Steven Atkins, James Totman, Eden Paull, Ketrina Puckeridge, Leo Stanoevski and Stephanie Rooney. Picture: GREG ELLISTHE Vocational Training Committee (VTC) launched the Illawarra & South East NSW Training Awards last week.
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As part of the launch, the committee showcased some of the star performers from 2014.

Among them were 2014 school-based trainee of the year Ketrina Puckeridge who now works at Skydive on the Beach and the 2014 Illawarra & South East NSW trainee of the year Eden Paull who spoke of how great it was to be involved and she encouraged as many nominations as possible.

“Just being nominated was great recognition of my efforts and was reward enough in itself,” she said.

“When I was named trainee of the year for the region, it was a little overwhelming but just a fantastic feeling. The awards process gave me time to reflect on my achievements and this enabled me to make some decisions about what I wanted to do in the future which is a business management diploma and [I’m] hoping this leads to further education at university.”

She said she also benefited greatly from the RYLA Scholarship, which was part of the award.

The NSW Training Awards are hosted by the NSW Department of Education and Communities, local VTCs and sponsors.

Nominations close on March 27 and for further information, go to http://www.training.nsw.gov.au/training_awards/.

“It’s a great way for local business to recognise and acknowledge the talent they have nurtured in their apprentices and trainees and to the many others involved in the vocational education and training system,” Meridith Yabsley, who chairs the Illawarra and South East NSW Region VTC said.

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HELP NEEDED: As the club searches for more players, Turvey Park president Vin Carroll addresses those at training at Maher Oval on Tuesday night. Picture: Laura HardwickEMBATTLED Riverina League club Turvey Park have gone public in their plea for players.
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The Bulldogs have endured a tough couple of months and have now come out on front foot in a bid to ensure their future.

About 40 players have departed Maher Oval over the off-season, including 24 that played a first grade game last year.

Turvey Park have now launched a series of player incentives and gone public in an unprecedented move to boost numbers.

Turvey Park will pay $100 a game to every first grade player this season.

They have also set up bonus payments for Turvey Park juniors that go on to play 50 or more games for the club.

Turvey Park president Vin Carroll put the call out for any new or existing players to get on board.

“It’s getting to the stage now where we need a few more,” Carroll said.

“It’s been a real battle and it’s getting really tough.

“We’ve got a good core of good senior players, we just need to top up a bit.

“There has been a fair drop off from the under 17s to seniors for whatever reason.

“We want them to come right through from 15s to seniors so we’ve decided to add an incentive for that.”

The exodus is not simply restricted to the football field either.

“We’re putting out the call to all ex-players and supporters,” Carroll said.

“We’re looking for people to come back and support the club and help out.

“Rather than hearing ‘you should do this, or you should do that’, I’d love to hear ‘I’ll do this or I’ll do that.”

Turvey Park’s 2015 campaign started strongly with the appointment of Troy Maiden as their new coach, followed by a handful of signings, headed by former Eastlake captain Chad Gibson.

Over the last few months, things have unraveled with Gibson’s unavoidable departure due to employment the biggest blow.

“Before Christmas, it was unreal, we had everything done by Christmas and it was all looking good,” Carroll said.

“I would have swore we were going to finish top three.”

Long-time Turvey Park official Barb Hill urged players and supporters to get behind the club.

“It’s devastating to see the club this way,” Hill said.

“I don’t want to see it fold.

“The club has been here since 1952, we’ve got to try and keep it afloat.”

Turvey Park plans to visit schools in a bid to welcome more players to the club.

The club is also willing to negotiate for more than $100 for the right players.

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The Bunbury Mail Australia Day Fun Run has raised funds to donate more than 30 swags to the Salvation Army. Pictured is Bunbury Mail editor Shanelle Miller, Bunbury Salvation Army Corps officer Harriet Farquhar and Runners Club race director Allan Whitfield. FOLLOWING a successful Bunbury Mail Australia Day Fun Run event, the Bunbury Runners Club has donated 32 swags and $2,000 to the Salvation Army.
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Bunbury Salvation Army Corps officer Harriet Farquhar said the donation of swags comes at the right time for those doing it tough on the streets.

“It’s really well timed as we can get these to people on the streets before winter hits, opposed to during the cold months,” she said.

“We are very humbled at the Runners Club’s generosity.”

Bunbury Runners Club race director Allan Whitfield, who led the charge on donating the goods, said the club found it important to make sure the donation go towards the community.

“We believe it is paramount that we keep the money and the products in the South West,” he said.

“We’re very happy that we’ve been able to help the Salvation Army out.”

Mr Whitfield explained that the decision to donate a further $2,000 came after the club realised just how successful the event had been.

To purchase a swag for yourself, head to swags.org.au – the profits of each swag go towards the Salvation Army.

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A MAULES Creek woman has become the latest protester charged after allegedly disrupting Whitehaven Coal’s attempt to clear the state forest.
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Ann-Marie Rasmussen, a local horse trainer, sus-pended herself from a tree in the Leard State Forest early yesterday morning in protest against the mine.

PROTEST CHARGES: Maules Creek local Ann-Marie Rasmussen was arrested yesterday after allegedly suspending herself from a tree in the Leard State Forest. Photo: Supplied

She spent seven hours in the tree before she was arrested by police about 12.30pm and taken to Narrabri Police Station.

“The government knows the risks that mining poses for our water, air and ecosystems, and they create laws protecting the right of the mines to do so. Yet the law of this land states that any man or woman who dares to defend their land is labelled a criminal,” Ms Rasmussen said.

The arrest is the latest in a sustained attack over recent months by protesters from the Leard Forest Alliance and Frontline Action on Coal who oppose the mine and the clearing of the forest.

“These people have broken the law knowing the consequences they would face, for no personal gain other than environmental protection,” Leard Forest Alliance spokesperson Andy Paine said.

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ZERO NET ENERGY TOWN: Uralla is enjoying a welcome boom in home building.URALLA is experiencing a mini housing boom, with Thunderbolt country en- joying a steady increasein the number of newresidents.
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Last year saw the highest number of dwelling approvals in a decade and Uralla council hopes to see the trend continue in 2015.

Twenty-nine dwellings were approved in the town last year, and while the figure might not sound large, Uralla council’s manager of town planning and regulation Elizabeth Cumming said it was a considerable number for the size of the town.

“We think that’s really positive,” Ms Cumming said.

“Rentals are exhausted here in Uralla, so people are looking to either build or buy.

“Already for the month of January we (had) five – which is a good start.

“We also have a 60-lot subdivision application.”

It is hoped the subdivision will be approved this month.

Ms Cumming said the comparison between the estimated value of approvals in January last year and this year was also encouraging.

In 2014 the total figure for January was $54,800 compared with a total estimated value of $751,000 this year.

Uralla mayor Michael Pearce said there werea number reasons pro- spective home buyers and developers would find the area attractive.

“We’re a safe place to live,” Cr Pearce said.

“And being a Zero Net Energy Town is a big carrot to hang over people.

“There are virtually blocks all over the place, so there is room for everyone to have their bit of land.”

– The Armidale Express

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After a strong finish to last season and a solid preseason, Wolves veteran Chris Price is ready to lead his young charges to big things this year. Picture: GREG TOTMANAsclub stalwarts and experienced campaigners took the South Coast exit door, Chris Price stayed to guide a new era.
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With a younger, up-and-coming Wolves squad for the 2015 campaign, the 28-year old takes somewhat of a veteran status in his third season back with the club.

With that moniker, Price will also hold the captain’s armband for the new NSW National Premier League season.

He follows Matt Bailey and Jacob Timpano in leading the two-time NSL champions.

It’s a role he is honoured to attain.

“Being in a team I have always been one of the youngest but this year I am the oldest by a considerable margin. It is good to have the captaincy,” he said.

“Hopefully I can lead by example and help out the boys in any capacity.”

While it’s an opportunity he plans to take with both hands, the idea of captaincy felt far away for Price just two seasons ago.

In his first season back with the Wolves, an ACL injury threatened to derail his dream return home after four seasons with Sutherland.

“I was excited to come back. I have a lot of time and passion for the club and want to see it succeed,” Price remembers.

“It is one of the reasons why I wanted to come back but I think in life in general you have your setbacks.

“I just tried to turn a negative into a positive and it probably turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

“You don’t really realise what you have got until it is taken away from you and it helped me with other aspects of my game.

“It was disappointing at the time but you just have to get on with things.”

While Price’s focus didn’t take a severe hit, the physical side took time.

He made his return at the beginning of last season but it wasn’t until the second half of the campaign where fans got to see him at his best.

“With an injury like that it takes a little while to get back into it and get confidence back,” he said.

“It took me [time] to get match fitness back as well.

“There were times through the year where I had a few little complications with it.

“But in the last month or six weeks of the season I was actually able to play and contribute on the pitch with the knee fine … that was pleasing.”

The end of season form and a full pre-season have set the platform for an even brighter 2015 campaign.

A finals finish in the league is high on the Wolves’ agenda but Price has other things in mind.

“The FFA Cup … it was the pinnacle for us last year as a club and it would be fantastic if we could replicate that this year,” Price said after the Wolves made the main draw in 2014.

“It is only going to be good for the club and fans, the future for trying to get an A-League team.

“If we can promote things like that on such a big stage – in our own backyard – it will only increase the possibility of it happening again.”

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